MarketOutsider Tells Investors Who’s Up, Who’s Down in the Media

10/27/08Follow @gthuang

When I first met Bryce Baril in June, he was a winning contestant in Seattle LivePitch, an event in which local entrepreneurs pitch their startups in two minutes. For the past four months, Baril has been holed up with his company, MarketOutsider, quietly working away on a software prototype—a “robotic financial analyst” that could potentially change the way people keep track of news about companies and other entities that might affect their investment strategy.

Baril, a former senior software engineer at Seattle-based Whitepages.com, isn’t ready to talk about the details just yet, but here’s the basic idea. His software scours the Web daily for articles from financial news sites like Seeking Alpha and MarketWatch. It keeps track of which companies are getting more coverage than usual, and whether the news is generally positive or negative. As of this month, you can check out MarketOutsider’s daily summaries of which public companies are up or down at its Twitter account here.

But that’s just the beginning, says Baril. An eventual goal is to provide a service whereby users can track companies, people, and products—and relationships between all of them—on a daily basis (or more). An early demo of the technology shows a graph displaying the day-to-day sentiment in the media about a given company. Baril says the curve typically correlates with the stock price of a company. That means you could use his service as a rough guide for investing, or at least to notify you when there’s a spike in news about a company you’re interested in.

And who exactly should be interested in this, besides investors and analysts? “We’re trying to get it to everybody,” says Baril. Given the state of information overload today (who has time to read 10 news articles?), a service like MarketOutsider’s would seem to be pretty attractive. But it will also take some pretty sophisticated search and language-processing technology to make it accurate and reliable. That’s one of the aspects that Baril and fellow co-founder Colin Meyer are busy working on now.

According to their Twitter feed, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) was up in the media as of late last week—no big surprise, given its cloud computing announcement, Jeff Bezos’s appearance on Oprah, and her endorsement of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader. I’m guessing Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) will be up today and tomorrow, as its professional developers conference is going on in Los Angeles, and the company is set to announce its own cloud computing product…

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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